Monday, September 01, 2008

Japan's Prince of Tennis

Japan has a new Prince of Tennis, by the name of Kei Nishikori, who is kicking butt in the U.S. open right now after his big win against David Ferrer over the weekend, making him the first Japanese tennis player to advance to the 4th round since 1937. Born in in rural Shimane Prefecture in 1989, he took up a racket at the age of five and would hit balls against the side of his house for many hours, showing a remarkable aptitude for the sport. He took the incredible step of leaving Japan behind, crossing over to the U.S. at the age of 13 to be trained at the IMG Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, which caused quite a lot of buzz at the time. As usual, Japanese who compete in the world stage and raise the image of Japan in the eyes of foreigners become overnight sensations in here, and suddenly his name is on everyone's lips. I certainly hope that Nishikori-kun can follow stars like Ichiro, Hideki Matsui and soccer player Hidetoshi Nakata in redefining the international image of Japan through sports. Ganbatte, Nishikori!